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January 1, 2014
Negotiations to End Apartheid in South Africa

Negotiations to End Apartheid in South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labours of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.” – Albert Einstein


“Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which can’t be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.”
- Plutarch


“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
- Melody Beattie


We shall overcome one day but we may overcome ourselves in the first instance with gratitude. Gratitude to our past, our present and our future. Gratitude to those who made our life and circumstances possible. Gratitude to our friends and opponents who made what we are, who shaped our response.

Looking and being grateful what we did receive ourselves in terms of good fortune, health and other things, we may indeed look around as well. Both in the past, in the present and in the future. We may come ourselves with the things we cherish or with the positives amidst  negatives. This might be different for all of us.

If we look at the past let’s be e.g grateful for the Freedom Fighters in the US who shaped the future for equal rights among black and whites. This shaping of the future was not without violence and cruelty. Non-violent struggle did overcome racial segregation, like it did overcome apartheid in South Africa with similar forces in action many years later. Again, not without violence and cruelty. People beaten, shot, disappearing, often at young age, – by their opponents. But they did overcome marching up to freedom land. Freedom land, not the goal, but the way, – with largely the aim of violence to be avoided. It is the way of violence to be avoided within all reasonable dimensions, if possible. It is at least the way of violence to be avoided by not provoking this violence, within dimensions which continue to be reasonable.

Like America was trying to control the status quo in the 196o ties,  South Africa was trying to defend the rights of minorities and compromising the rights of majorities. Many countries are still doing the same. The non-violence movement has been neither restricted to the US nor South Africa.

Let’s be grateful if it could be the privilege and the pride of most countries to bring change from inside. Peaceful change with the least possible violence. A movement which should grow from Syria to North Korea, from oppressive regimes in South America to similar regimes in Asian countries. But the means by which the movement for change tries to break through now is by no means the same, – more deadly even and perhaps more dangerous.

Let’s be grateful for the media who are able to bring injustice to daylight with day-to-day examples, not by judging e.g. the people of Syria and North Korea, – but by judging the leaders at higher and lower levels. Those leaders responsible for the venom injected to paralyze it’s people in fear and not to speak out.

In Syria they do, they fight back. They fight back to pay evil with evil and the question is which party is going to benefit from this, which party is going to benefit from so many people on the run, so many people being shifted in shelter camps. Children often lifelong traumatized. The last being the most tragic casualties of the war. Children simply to survive on the bare minimum without any education anymore. It being very hard as well to get aid where aid needs to be. People from there even trying to move to France and trying to get into the UK. For them getting to get across the Channel being vital, as they are fed with illusions on jobs and prosperity. Those illusions fed by the hands of underworld gangs who make people trafficking and preying on refugees and lost people their business.

In Syria many feel dead among the living.  Ongoing violence between the Sunni – dominated opposition and the al – Assad regime supported Alawite’s, – an offshoot of Shiite Islam,  - against again other Muslim groups.  The bloodshed and massacres do not seem to stop and the question is what sort of good may come out of this and what sort of “reason” other countries will come up with , without making the situation more explosive. The question as well what sort of “gratitude” people may have at such places in the most difficult circumstance one can imagine,  - situations like we can only recognize from war’s we have been able to leave behind. The gratitude to live for some might be replaced by the gratitude to die for others, which is the worst of all gratitude as the last gratitude we should have is the gratitude to live. And this is the preferred gratitude we should be able to share.

The last is what we may think. But people are able to take this away from other people by the venom of hate, by the brutality of their violence, by the starvation of people. Some of them will “overcome” but not all of them. Some of them may see the new day but not all of them. Some of them may feel peace but others may have lost all peace, all gratitude, and don’t feel human anymore as their humanity has been compromised at the utter roots. It is this almost complex manifestation in nature as well, that life comes at a cost of other life, –  whilst as human beings by nature we have the gift by choice in general to change the dynamics of hate and destruction into dynamics of a reasonable peace. And we need to be grateful for this gift, even in the darkest hours. As with this shared gift we can change and “overcome”.

Liberation is only possible by ordinary people doing extra ordinary things by non-violence. The power of ordinary people can keep a dream alive, can move governments if so required, is able to move the dangers of war and all-out violence. Is even able to “move” people who lost their dreams as due to an overload of prosperity. The other way around, – so to say. However, is non violence possible under all circumstances as part of the process of liberation?

If we look at history the answer is simply: No!  Without violence it was not possible to remove Hitler and his followers. Without violence it was not possible to protect e.g.the Jews in countries like e.g. the Netherlands, where resistance groups had to target Gestapo Officers responsible for the transport of Jews to concentration camps, and likewise had to target collaborators who worked with the Gestapo and indicated which people did give shelter for Jews. The last resulting in both families providing shelter for Jews and the same Jews being protected for some time to be put on trains straight to the camps in Germany. It is just an example. And there are far more and other examples as well. However non-violent action to bring required change is the most favorable and most honorable way to add to peaceful dynamics which may last. Perseverance is more prevailing than violence

Let’s be grateful that despite tears pain and hardship and even death, – history showed the growing seeds of turning against evil and overcome destructive powers. Therefore, still we can say “we shall overcome” even if we are not allowed to see the promised land, – we shall overcome as even with our limited days on this earth we have the choice to try to cut destruction and improve life and the circumstances of those who needless suffer as due to the choices of evil powers not to be tolerated in our times. Powers which are due to be eliminated as due to the risks they impose on humanity.

Time is slow for those who need help. Time is slower for those who are desperate and time stands still when people lose their loved one’s in the ongoing violence in eg Sudan, Gaza and other areas. Protecting self-interest in countries under threat is one thing, and can be within proportions. But being the “prisoner” of perceived national security threats not being able to reach out to the other voices and crippling people with the brutal forces of the secret police and other military powers in some instances, – are hard to tolerate in a world which faced so much violence before.

History did teach us many lessons of what works and does not work, and we can be grateful for this  but the highest appreciation is not utter words but to live by those lessons, to live the gratitude for those lessons and to pay tribute to those in history who did give to more justice and gratitude and peace for our times and all times, – even when there are still areas on this planet where this is not felt at all.

We shall overcome one day , we  shall all overcome one day through pain and tears. And those who have no pains or tears can be grateful for this and may wonder what we can do to lift the burdens of others with more pain and tears in the spirit of non-violence,  where hate has no place anymore. If at all possible!

This is the gratitude, if not only utter words, which  may help us all to overcome one day. We need to live it through to that day!

That day “when we are free,- free at last!”,  - whenever this day will be in the future, and whatever we have to face to see this day.

We shall overcome one day, – as long as our dreams do last and our efforts do not stop!  As long as our mind conceives and believes, our gratitude does not cease, and we as a people are able to achieve, –  in a way which lifts the burdens in and around us and makes us free, - free as much to make free as such!


Paul Wolf

About Paul:  Paul is connected on LinkedIn.   For more information on this see Google: Paul Alexander Wolf – Physician, FRACGP, DFFP
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